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Starting a Business? Here’s What You Need to Know

Open a business

also involves following rules and regulations, some of which you may not have initially considered. In order to prevent you from getting into hot water before you have even started, keep reading to learn about the laws of starting a business.

 

What should I do first?

The first thing you need to do when setting up a new business is to apply for an ABN and register a business name, both of which can be easily done online. However, lots of people are unsure about if they need a business plan to do this or not. Although you don’t need any formal business plan, when applying for an ABN and business name registration you will be asked to give details about your new venture, and much of this information would be included in a business plan. Some things you will be asked to provide are:

 

  • Details of business activities
  • Business structure
  • Proposed business name
  • Address and contact details of the business
  • Details of each person associated with the business

 

Do I Need to be Registered?

The simple answer to this question is yes. It is really important to keep your business structure up to date. If you fail to register your business name you are not complying with legislative requirements and your business can face serious penalties. On top of this, you could begin to operate under a name that is already in use- this can cause problems with the current business using that name and you could face being sued.

 

Sole Trader Vs Company?

One of the first things you need to decide when starting a business is what business structure you want to operate under; the two main structures are a sole trader or a company. A sole trader is a person trading as the individual legally responsible for all aspects of the business, whereas a company is a separate legal entity and the company owners are not generally liable for company debts. A company is a more complex business structure and involves higher set up and running costs than a sole trader. What business structure you decide on depends on the type of business you are running, how many employees you have and how much money the business makes.

 

What taxes do I need to register for?

The type of taxes you register for will depend on which business structure you operate under, what type of business you are running, and how much you are earning. You may need to register for taxes such as GST and PAYGW (pay as you go withholding) It’s also important to remember that if you are a sole trader you will be taxed as an individual but companies are taxed as a separate entity.

 

Obviously these points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you need to start a business, but they will definitely give you a head start out the gate! So, are you ready to take on the world with your new venture?

 

Who Keeps the Dog? What it means for your pet if you separate.

divorce dog

Separating from a partner is an emotionally draining and stressful time for everybody, and that’s before you and your ex get down to the nitty gritty of dividing up assets. It’s one thing to decide who gets the TV, but, what happens to the dog you both love? Unless there is a pre nuptial agreement (or a ‘pet-nup’) that stipulates who the pet is to stay with, it can become a complicated matter.

 

With many couples considering their pets as children- affectionately referring to them as ‘fur babies’- deciding who keeps them in a separation is becoming an increasing issue. Despite how couples view their pets The Australian Family Law Act states that animals are property, no different to a TV or a car. However, unless the animal in question is of value, such as a racehorse or a breeding animal, Family Law Courts will not be happy to find a pet included in a property settlement. If you are intent on including a family pet in a Property Settlement Application, it is important to remember that one option open to the court is to order the pet to be sold rather than staying with one of the parties. So, before you go down this route, keep in mind that you both may lose the animal.

 

Essentially, couples must try to decide an outcome between themselves. One way to do this is to go through a list of simple questions, such as:

 

Who bought the pet?

Who is the pet registered to?

Who feeds and/or walks the pet?

Who will be in a position to give the pet the best life once separated?

 

If children are involved, it is also important to consider their emotional health when deciding who keeps the pet. For example, if the children are particularly attached to the family dog, it may be best for the dog to live where the children will spend most of their time.

 

Another solution that is becoming more popular is to create a ‘Pet Parenting Agreement’ which states who the pet lives with and how much time it gets to spend with the other party. If you and your ex can come to an arrangement, this is often the best resolution as each person will get allotted time with the pet.

 

In the event that neither party can come to an agreement, the only other option is to take the case to a Small Claims Court or a Tribunal. However, depending on the state, there is no guarantee that they will deal with it. Even after taking the case to a court there is no legally binding ‘custody’ of a pet.

 

It’s clear in western society that people view their pets as a family member, so it becomes difficult when they are reduced to a mere possession in a separation. Personal feelings aside, both parties should consider what is best for the pet and base their decision on who is able to give it the best life.

Using Your Phone While Driving: What Are the Laws?

phone in car

It’s no secret that the NSW government are cracking down on people using their phone whilst driving. The penalties include fines and adding demerit points to the license of the offender, sometimes pushing people over the demerit point threshold and causing people to lose their license. But how many of us actually know all the laws surrounding this topic? Keep reading for a quick guide to the laws of using your phone while on the road.

 

I’m a Learner or Provisional Driver, What Can I Do? Anyone on a learner license or a P1 or P2 license is not permitted to use their phone at all when driving. If a learner or P1 driver is caught using their phone they will incur four demerit points and exceed their threshold, and face a three-month suspension. P2 drivers will have three demerit points remaining, so if caught again they will lose their license.

 

I Have a Full License: The laws are slightly different for those will their full license. If on a full license you are able to make or answer a call, providing the phone is in a cradle fixed to the car, or can be operated via Bluetooth. You are also able to use your phone for a map as long as the phone is in a cradle and not obscuring vision.

 

Can I use my phone if it’s in my lap? No, its actually illegal to use your phone if it is touching any part of your body! But, if you are on your full license, and have Bluetooth, you’re able to use your phone for calls even when its in your pocket.

 

Can I hold my phone at traffic lights or in traffic? This is also illegal, if you want to use your phone you must be parked off of the road or on the side of the road. There’s also a new law in place stating that if you wish to use your phone (even when off of the road) your engine must be off. If you fail to do this, you will get demerit points! So don’t forget to turn your engine off when checking your emails.

 

Can I use the audio on my phone if I don’t have Bluetooth? As long as you have an unrestricted license, and the phone is in a cradle, this is fine. The cradle needs to be attached to the car in a safe place, not obscuring your view of the road though. You’re also allowed to dial a number if your phone is in a cradle on a full license.

 

I’m on a provisional license, but I need to use a map, what do I do?  Although you’re not allowed to use a phone for its map unless you have a full license, provisional drivers and learners are allowed to use a GPS. So when you first start driving, a GPS might be a worthwhile investment!

 

As you can see, there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to using your phone while driving. These restrictions are in place to help drivers stay focused on the road. Follow this guide and you’ll avoid any hefty penalties while being a safer driver at the same time.

Top Tips for Choosing the Best Lawyer

choose the best lawyer

With so many law firms in every city, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to choosing a lawyer. Unless you have a recommendation from a friend or family member it can be quite a daunting task. This stress is not lessened by the fact that you are finding someone to argue your case, essentially you are putting your fate in their hands. Keep reading to find out some top tips for choosing the right lawyer for you.

 

Fits Your Budget

The first thing for you to consider is the price range, the last thing you want is to go broke trying to pay for a service outside your means. However, this doesn’t mean choosing the cheapest lawyer you can find. If the price seems ridiculously low in comparison to the competition, there is probably something amiss. The aim is to find a lawyer that you can afford and that will do their best to help you achieve your desired outcome. With this in mind, contact several lawyers to arrange a free consultation. Make sure you inquire about costs and discuss this upfront so you are clear on what they charge. After meeting different lawyers, you should be able to make a decision based on their prices and if you believe they are able to get the best results for you.

 

Focused on Your Case

The initial meeting with a lawyer can be really important when it comes to making a decision. After meeting them reflect and ask yourself if they seemed focused and detail orientated. Will they be able to provide you with what you need? When choosing a lawyer, ask if you will be communicating with them directly or if you will be dealing with a paralegal; there is nothing more difficult than trying to express concerns to a lawyer who wont communicate with you directly. Let your instincts guide you, if you feel as though the lawyer isn’t interested in your case or they aren’t willing to answer questions, perhaps they aren’t right for you.

 

Experienced

Although price and passion are important factors to consider when choosing a lawyer, it’s also essential to choose an experienced lawyer. Ensure that you pick a lawyer who has adequate experience in the area of law you require services. For example, use a family lawyer to draft up divorce papers and a criminal lawyer to defend you in a criminal case. General practitioners are fine for non complex matters, but their lack of detailed knowledge in a given field could hurt your case.

 

Check References

A good lawyer and a well respected firm will have a reputation to match. Ask friends, family and colleagues if they have any experience with the firm you are considering. Do your research and find out if the majority of people who have used the firm have been happy with the results. Even the best lawyers will have some dissatisfied clients, but you want to find someone with more good reviews than bad.

 

Finding a good lawyer really can mean the difference between winning or losing a case. If you follow these tips when you need a good lawyer, you’re bound to leave the court room smiling.

A Quick Guide to Social Media Law

social media law

Social media has become a huge part of our lives, with people sharing almost every aspect of their daily activities on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It seems almost obvious that there are rules and regulations when it comes to using social media, but, we are all guilty of ignoring the ‘Terms and Conditions’ when making an account. So what actually are the laws when it comes to using social media? Here is a quick guide to social media law that might keep you from trouble online.

 

Defamation Law

One of the best things about social media is the way it gives everyone a way to express their views. It’s so easy to post a Tweet or Facebook status, that often we do it on autopilot without thinking about the consequences. It may come as a shock to you to hear that when you’re posting your thoughts and opinions online, you may actually be breaking the law! How? Well, there is a law of defamation, this refers to something that is said, or written about another person that has the potential to seriously damage someone’s reputation or subject them to shame and ridicule. The defamation law isn’t something taken lightly; if you post something defamatory, it is possible to be sued civilly and the victim of the comments may be entitled to damages (often large sums of money). To avoid breaking any laws, think before you tweet!

 

Harassment

It’s no secret that cyber bullying is not only wrong but also illegal, however, this refers to more than just posting hurtful comments and pictures. Harassment can also be considered a form of cyber bullying and this is illegal. This refers to a persistent course of conduct by a person against someone else, generally leading to them feeling uncomfortable or offended. This may be accidental, something considered funny or light hearted can be taken as harassment. Something as simple as continual comments on someone’s photos could get you into trouble if the recipient feels threatened.  Each state has different laws, but these offences can come with heavy penalties.

 

Copyright Laws

Copyright is the legal term to describe someone’s ownership of creative work, this covers anything from writing to artwork. This does cover works that are shared on social media, however, websites terms and conditions may change these rights. Websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter give themselves the right to copy and use anything you post without your permission. As easy as it may be to ignore the terms and conditions, it is always safest to do so in order to protect your work.

 

The Bottom Line

Not knowing the law isn’t a valid excuse for breaking it, so it can be really important to familiarise yourself with basic social media laws. It is your responsibility to ensure whatever you are doing, or posting online falls within Australian law. If in doubt, air on the side of caution and don’t post, because under Australian law you are liable for your behaviour online.

5 Rental Rights You Didn’t Know You Had

rental rights

Buying a house has, and always will be, a huge financial investment; for a lot of people it takes years of saving to get to a point where they are in a position to afford it. This leaves many with little choice but to rent. It’s important to know your rights as a tenant, but unless you have really done your research, it can be a bit of a legal minefield. So to help out both new and veteran renters, here are some rental rights you may not have been aware of.

 

  1. Keys

At the beginning of a lease the landlord is obligated to give each tenant named on the tenancy agreement a free copy of the key or other opening device information to open any lock for the premises and any common property that the tenant is entitled to access. This means that if there are three people on the lease, each person should be given a full set of keys from the landlord- renters should not have to get their own set of keys cut.

 

  1. Tenant Listing

A landlord is able to list a tenant on a tenancy database if they believe you are a ‘bad tenant’. However, before making a listing the landlord must inform the tenant and give them a copy of the information they want on the database. Any response by the tenant must also be considered. If the landlord fails to do this, they can be fined up to $2,200.

 

  1. Photos

The landlord or agent is legally allowed to take photos of the outside of the property. But, photographing inside, including your belongings, is a breach of your right to reasonable privacy. If you find out photos were taken inside, you are within your rights to apply to have the photos destroyed or given to you.

 

  1. Repairs

It is the landlord’s responsibility to pay for and organise repairs. Tenants can apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for economic loss if it was caused by the landlord’s failure to do the necessary repairs.  For example, if the oven is not repaired, you are entitled to compensation for spending excess money on take- away. The tribunal can order up to $15,000 in compensation.

 

  1. Selling the Property

If the landlord wants to sell the property they can, however, as a renter you still have rights. If the property is sold and the current lease is not finished, the buyer of the property becomes the new landlord. The tenancy agreement continues as before, on the same terms and you are not obligated to sign a new lease.

 

Although it may feel as though tenants have no rights and no power compared to the landlord or the estate agents, this really isn’t the case. If a landlord or agent is breaking tenancy law, or your signed tenancy agreement, you are within your rights to seek advice and compensation from a Tribunal.

3 Surprisingly Enticing Toll Incentives

toll road

One of the biggest hassles of driving in Sydney is the tolls. It’s hard to get anywhere without encountering at least one toll road. However, they are a necessary evil as the roads don’t get expanded for free, and without bigger roads there would be even more traffic – that would be a complete nightmare! Despite using toll roads everyday, there might be some facts that surprise you!

 

  1. Regular Toll Users Get Free Rego

There’s a new law that has recently come into effect stating that if you spend $25 or more per week on tolls, you may be eligible for free rego. This is to encourage people to continue driving, as building more roads and making current roads bigger would be completely pointless without anyone using them. This is designed so that people are either paying for rego or for weekly toll usage, and not for both. The NSW government also hopes that it will entice more people to use toll roads rather than taking the longer back road options. So, if you use toll roads on a regular basis, this might apply to you!

 

  1. M5 Cashback Scheme

This scheme allows NSW residents to get back the value of tolls paid while using a NSW registered vehicle on the M5 motorway. To get money back for M5 tolls you need to have paid the toll using an electronic tolling account and be a NSW resident driving a NSW registered car. You are able to register for cashback at any time by contacting your electronic tolling account provider. The tolls you accumulated before registering for cashback wont be refunded, but every trip using the M5 afterwards will essentially be free!

 

  1. LinktGO

If you aren’t a regular user of tolls, having to go through a toll road becomes such an effort. Without an E-tag it can be really difficult to actually pay the toll fees. No one wants to receive letter after letter about unpaid tolls. What you might not know is that there’s now ‘an app for that’! LinktGO is a free app that you download and use to track your trips; all you have to do is type in your licence plate number and using the GPS system in your phone the app will calculate which roads you have used and which tolls you need to pay. This means you avoid any extra fees for not having an E-tag. It’s really easy and saves you from added stress from unpaid toll fines.

 

Everyone would agree that tolls are really annoying. But, they don’t have to be the main focus of any trip. Hopefully these three tips will save you some money when it comes to travelling around Sydney.

Sydney Lockout Laws: Who are they really locking out?

lock out laws

The Sydney lockout laws were introduced in 2014 by the NSW Government, with the aim being to reduce alcohol related violence. This law prohibits people entering hotels, registered clubs, nightclubs and karaoke bars in lockout areas after 1.30am and prevents these venues from serving alcohol after 3am. So what effect has it had?

 

Violence Has Reduced in Lockout Areas

The lockout laws don’t apply to the entire city, instead they target the hot spots for crime and violence. Areas include Kings Cross, Oxford Street, the Rocks and Haymarket. In the years following the new regulations, assaults have dropped by 50% in Kings Cross and by 40% across the Sydney CBD. These statistics show that the lockout laws have had the desired effect and have made many areas safer.

 

Violence Has Increased in Other Areas

Despite the impressive drop in assaults in lockout areas, The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has released information showing that there has been an increase in crime in areas bordering the lockout zone. These figures highlight the 12% increase in assaults near The Star Casino in Pyrmont. Furthermore, Newtown, Bondi and Double Bay have experienced a 17% rise in violence since the lockout laws were implemented. This could suggest that instead of solving the issue, it has merely been relocated to other areas outside of the CBD.

 

It Has Had a Negative Effect on Business

Although the lockout laws were put in place as an answer to Sydney’s crime problem, these laws have also had other effects on the city. One of these being the impact on businesses. With the laws surrounding the sale of alcohol becoming stricter, it’s become more difficult for pubs and clubs to make money. Statistics have suggested that about 418 licensed premises have closed since the lockout laws, with only 242 new small bar licenses being granted; this means Sydney has lost 167 venues since 2014. It isn’t just smaller businesses that have been affected, there have been some high profile closures too including Hugo’s Bar and Lounge in Kings Cross (which closed in August 2015) and The Soho in Kings Cross (closed in June 2015).

 

Less People Are Visiting

It’s hard to argue with facts, and they do show that the lockout laws have made Sydney safer, but, it is also possible to suggest that there’s less alcohol related crime in the lockout zone simply because there are less people visiting. With people opting to visit other areas instead, there has been an 80% fall in foot traffic in Sydney.

 

So who are the Sydney lockout laws really affecting? The statistics, unfortunately, speak for themselves.

Consumer Law: Know your rights!

consumer law

As much as it feels as though big businesses hold all the power, this isn’t really the case. Consumer law is designed to protect customers from unfair trade. This covers all aspects from faulty and dangerous goods to dishonest claims. But how many of us actually know our rights as a consumer? Knowing these basic consumer rights could save you from getting ripped off by businesses.

 

Deceptive Conduct

The first consumer law refers to deceptive conduct. It’s illegal for businesses to make claims, statements or advertisements that are likely to mislead customers. It isn’t only what businesses say, but what they don’t say that can be considered misleading; if a business fails to disclose relevant information that will influence the customer’s decision, this is also unlawful.

 

False Claims

Businesses are also prohibited from making false claims about the products they are selling. This covers all aspects from the quality of the product to if the product is new. For example, if you were to buy a phone that was advertised as being new, and you later found out it was used, this would be considered as a false claim and is therefore illegal. Businesses can be fined up to $220,000 for an individual and $1.1 million for a body corporate if they are found to have made misleading claims. If you discover you have been misinformed by a business in regards to a purchase you recently made, you are within your rights to contact Fair Trading to come to an appropriate solution.

 

Unconscionable Conduct

It may sometimes feel like big businesses make decisions that are wrong and unfair, however, under Consumer Law, businesses are not allowed to behave in a way that defies good conscience, this is contextual and based on a society’s expectations. Now, for something to be unconscionable it has to be more than just unfair; unfortunately, you can’t just take a business to court for something you believe to be unreasonable. This law is dependent on circumstances and is situational, but if you are not given sufficient time to read a contract and ask questions about it, this is breaking the law. Another example of unconscionable conduct is if a sales person uses high pressure tactics by refusing to leave your home or not taking ‘no’ for an answer.

 

As confusing as Consumer Law can be, it is always good to know your rights. There’s nothing worse than being ripped off by a big company and feeling as though you can’t do anything about it. So don’t forget that it is there to protect you as a customer and ensure that businesses aren’t taking advantage. If you feel like a business isn’t complying with Consumer Law, don’t be afraid of contacting Fair Trading.

Most controversial laws in Australia

controversial laws

We all have a set of laws to follow in every country, and Australia also has laws for its people. But among those, some of them are quite controversial and strange to follow. We have gathered a set of such controversial laws which you should know about.

You are not allowed to reward for the return of stolen property:

In the southern part of Australia, you are not allowed to give any rewards to people if they happen to return stolen property. In the summary offences act 1953 the person who gives any reward to people who returns stolen property will be charged a severe penalty.

Size of your fridge plays a great deal in Australia:

In Australia, you are not allowed to have a refrigerator bigger than 42.5 litres. There are two exceptions to this law. The first one is that you can have a fridge which is bigger than 42.5 litres if the refrigerator was imported to Australia before 1962. The second exception is that if you can open the doors from the inside, you are allowed to have a fridge bigger than 42.5 litres.

Vacuuming at night? Think again:

Australia is very particular about residential noise pollution, and thus you cannot vacuum in the night between 7 pm to 10 pm on the weekdays and from 10 pm to 9 am on the weekends and public holidays.

You might want to check twice before leaving your car:

It is illegal in Australia to leave your car keys inside your vehicle and leave it unattended. Under the road safety rules, it is unlawful to leave your motorcycle unattended. You will be charged a fine of $150 if you leave your vehicle unattended.

It is not legal to walk on the right side of the footpath:

In Australia, you need to drive on the left and also walk on the left side. If you use the right side of the path, you will be fined.

walkingnearroad

Travelling on a horse in New South Wales, we have good news for you:

If you happen to travel by horse anywhere in New South Wales and stop at a bar, the bar is supposed to provide water, food and give it a place to rest while you are at the bar.

You can’t sing a rude song in public:

Ever planned to sing a rude song in public at Adelaide and Melbourne? You might want to reconsider. It is illegal to sing any songs in the public which might be considered rude.

Planning to drive around with your dog? You might want to think again:

It is illegal to drive around with your dog or your goat in pubic place in Victoria, Australia. Most of the laws mentioned above are not followed all over the country, and thus you need to make sure which parts of the country has which rule and make sure to act accordingly.

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